A good pair of track shoes for a runner is as valuable as a sword for a gladiator. Your pair of shoes can significantly impact your performance on the track. Therefore, it is crucial that you carefully select the right pair of quality shoes to boost your performance.
This comprehensive guide is going to provide you with all the essential tips you should consider before buying track shoes.
1. Spike type
Finding your ideal shoe goes beyond your correct shoe size. Since not all shoe types are the same, a track runner requires different shoes, and a marathon runner has different shoe needs
As a track runner, you should keep track of how many miles on running shoes you are covering at regular intervals. It is advisable to change your shoe after 6 months or 500 miles, as the insole of your shoe becomes flat and soft and is not able to support your feet properly.
Keeping this point in mind, you should consider buying a shoe that caters to your specific track event and aids you in achieving the best performance.
Spike shoes with extra carbon plate support and shorter spike plates are ideal for short-distance events like 100m or 200 m. The shorter spike gives more stability, reduces weight and helps reach faster speed in a short duration.
While spike shoes with a longer spike plate are ideal for long-distance events. The longer spike plate provides more response overall to each step and is designed to be more rigid. The rigidity helps to keep the foot from deviating.
2. Running Anatomy
The next step in selecting your ideal track shoes depends on your running anatomy. Running anatomy refers to the overall physical characteristics inhibited by a runner.
Since every person has a distinct running style and distinct foot placement, your ideal shoe should suit that style. Otherwise, running with unsuitable shoes that do not align with your anatomy could affect your pace, resulting in overexertion, which might lead to injuries.
There are also other factors like pronation and landing of the foot that dictate your ideal running pace and can be the difference between running and losing.
Pronation means the alignment of your foot as it rolls from heel to toe. There are three types of pronation: overpronation, neutral and supination.
Overpronation causes the feet to turn inwards, while supination causes the feet to turn outward. You must pick the right shoes with either inward or outward support to complement your feet’s alignment.
Based on your foot pronation, you can select shoes with extra stability that protects your feet from bending inwards. Similarly, you can choose neutral support shoes for neutral pronation and extra cushion shoes for supination.
As discussed, your foot placement also impacts your running technique. You need to evaluate what part of your foot makes the initial contact with the ground. It could be your heel, toe or middle of your foot.
This analysis will help you select the shoe with the suitable shoe drop. Shoe drop is the sole thickness of the shoe between the heel and the toe.
You can accordingly select the best shoe with optimal shoe drop. If you land on your heel, choose a shoe with more than 7mm shoe drop. However, if you land in the middle of your foot, select a shoe with a shoe drop ranging from 0-6mm. In case you land on your heel, a shoe with no shoe drop is going to be an ideal choice.
The weight of the shoe is another factor to keep in mind. Shoe weight can differ depending on your needs. For instance, a lightweight track shoe can weigh around 190g, while a cushion-supported shoe can weigh around 300 g.
The apparent weight difference is not necessarily a demerit. Lightweight shoes are designed to be faster but exert a lot of force on the feet.
On the other hand, heavy cushioned shoes provide additional comfort and can be really helpful in long runs. The extra comfort also reduces the force and reduces the recovery time by half.
4. Toe box
Toe box is the topmost section of a shoe that covers your toe. An extremely tight toe box can affect your toes and cause bunions, which is sideways bending of the toe. However, an extremely wide toe box may decrease your grip on the track.
It is critical to find an ideal shoe with the right toe box, as your toes are responsible for stability and generating pace.
While common footwear is designed to cage your toes in an unnatural position, track shoes provide a wide variety of shoes with different toe box configurations.
Choose a shoe that complements your toe box and allows your toes to move freely.
5. Additional characteristics
There are several other factors to keep in mind, the first and foremost being the budget. Always make a thorough survey of all the available options and then opt for the one that complements your budget.
You can also choose two pairs of shoes; one can be used as daily trainers and the other can be utilized on special track events.
The daily trainers are low-budget shoes that are durable, heavy and made to face adverse training conditions. Meanwhile, race-day shoes are top-of-the-line, lightweight and not designed to handle daily wear and tear.
Many track shoes also come with breathable mesh fabric that helps with airflow. These mesh fabrics are especially helpful if you are running in a hot and humid environment.
Along with breathability, you should also consider a shoe’s durability, flexibility and looks.
Track shoes are available in different colors, designs and custom patterns. These color palettes can increase your style statement.
Buying the correct shoe for your next track event depends on several factors, including your foot anatomy, budget, weight and personal preferences.
Since no single choice of footwear applies to everyone, you must carefully analyze these factors to find your perfect fit.